Now, ten years ago, I was an angry force to be reckoned with. I didn't really like life, I didn't like myself...but I did love music. As soon as I heard Black Sabbath was doing a reunion tour, I was all over it like a vulture on death. My friends and I banded together and planned our journey. There was six of us...me, my boyfriend, another couple, a lunatic and my 'brother'. We had two vehicles, a hotel room, various amounts of drugs, our tickets, bad attitiudes and we were off. We all should have known with the group we had that there was going to be issues. The personalities were as vast as the sky. Combine that with being cooped up in a car for hours together and it makes for unpleasantries.
Although, we started out without a hitch, the ominous undertones of the trip quickly pounded at our heels. This trip took place in the middle of winter, I believe it was January so Mr Winter was working overtime the further north we went. I've always been a winter dweller, but sometimes you just curse the damn winters, no matter how many you've endured... Now, to set the scene for the first in a long line of debaucherous bullshit we were to endure, think Fargo. We were in the middle of nowhere, few cars on the road. The sky was grey and there were few clouds in the sky. There was not a bird in sight, probably blown away by the gusty winds that threatened to rip the skin off your face. I-235 North was blanketed in a thick layer of snow.
We had recently finished off smoking a beautifully pregnant joint and were enjoying life. La la la la la...SHIT!!! We nearly missed our exit and in doing so, I was one of three layers of a car sandwich. My first instinct was that the cops were going to come and being that our trusty little ride was my Mother's car, I went into complete stoned panic mode. I saw a Maglite and immediately unscrewed the top in order to put the more than obviously too large bag of drugs in the shaft. This didn't work, the panic worsened. I had no idea what I was going to do and the thought of spending the rest of my life in a Mexican jail was devastating! After a few minutes of me barraging my non-responsive boyfriend with prompts to stash said drugs the corpse in the back seat reanimated to tell me to "CALM THE FUCK DOWN!!!" He took the Maglite and bags from me and put them out of my sight, and at 19, out sight is out of mind.
We could now deal with the accident at hand... I was equipped with a cell phone that was as unsightly as a holding a shoe box to my ear. I called the police and informed them of the accident, they asked if anyone was hurt. I replied 'no'. They asked if we wanted them to dispatch a State Trooper. I graciously declined. Now, to deal with the other parties... The other two parties involved in our vehicular manage a trois couldn't have been more opposite. One gentleman was a very professional looking man, alone, driving a newer truck. The other gentleman had been rode hard and put away wet a few times over. He drove an early 80's boat that had also seen its better days. The car was filled with what looked to be various textiles as well as a woman and child. The conversation went like this:
Man with a plan: Is everyone ok?
Me: We are, and you? (indicating I was being inquisitive about the well being of the disheveled man's passengers)
Disheveled man: Does anyone have a cell phone?
Me and Man with a plan: Yes! (as we simultaneously reached for them)
Disheveled man: I'm going to go find a phone! (Quickly strides down the desolate interstate) The conversation led to a long moment of sheer disbelief...that did NOT just happen. It couldn't have. I approached the car to question the adult female passenger, assuming it was her husband, I asked her if he had somewhere to be and also asked if she was ok. She disregarded my questioning her well being and muttered something about him finding a phone. There comes a point in dealing with people where you just have to walk away. I was in no condition to try to save the child, who seemed perfectly happy curled up in the back amongst the month's worth of clothes and blankets piled in the back seat. I was sober now and felt like the best thing to do was to walk away from this Twilight Zone-ish situation unscathed. The chivalrous boys that were my passengers were nice enough to wait patiently in my car for me and I dutifully returned and we drove away...bumper flapping in the wind. The rest of the drive went off without a hitch.
We reached our hotel and secured the towel under the door, cracked the window and readied ourselves for the show. One of the substances we brought along was mushrooms. We devoured these like starving hyenas, anxious to get our trip underway. We smoked some more and decided it was time to head to the show. We loaded up in one vehicle, this was an old and less than desireable slate blue station wagon that growled and rumbled as it carried us into traffic. The driver, the only other female on this trip, had declined joining the rest of us in hallucinogenic indulgence. She claims this was for safety's sake, I think there were other motives... It was snowing lightly, which overjoyed the lot of us as it appeared that little rainbows were falling from the sky, chasing one another. It was beautiful. We were of no help to our driver to get us to our destination.
We could see the arena in the skyline, but had no way to articulate how we were supposed to get there. As we're chatting about nothing and everything we see HIM. A lone boy walking down the street in a Pantera shirt. He was donning running shoes and shorts and no coat, but the Pantera shirt was clear as day and that was all that mattered to our twisted minds. We demanded that our driver pull over, trying to convince her that HE would know the way to the show. It made perfect sense to us. We pulled over and invited him in. He paused, taking a survey of what kind of chaos he was submitting himself to. His eyes said no, but he reluctantly accepted the ride. He got in the rear passenger seat and held his breath...just waiting to get stabbed, strangled, slashed...but no, he was in store for something much more traumatizing. Imagine being trapped in a barrel with 1,300 rabid, ready to mate monkeys...I have a feeling this would be a similar despcription to what was going through this boy's mind. We all started in at once, unable to contain the new excitement of finding this stray and saving him from the weather. In our temporarily demented state, he had been brought to us for a reason and we were ALL going to tell him about it! In our depraved way We tried to communicate that we were lost...mentally, spatially. In midst conversation, or rather as we were inflicting mental anguish on our unsuspecting victim, he opened the door and jumped ship. At 40 miles an hour he rolled down the street, sacrificing his life to end the pain of our desperate shreiks! We dropped jaws and remained silent for the rest of the journey. We were in complete disbelief as to what happened. It felt like out world had just crumbled and was starting to set the tone for what the night may have in store.
We finally found the venue and as we walked in we were all pulling the shifty eye glances to see if our friend was around. Thankfully, he wasn't. We were in a high peak at this point and were totally reliant on our driver, Sarah to guide us. We were a wide eyed, stammering mess. The arena was massive and I felt like a small ant scurrying to find my place in the tunnels that lay beneath the ant hill. We finally found our seats. We were located in the balcony, directly stage right. We had a pretty close view, but were instantly bummed as we were side stage. The other issue that broke our spirits was that it was a seated show. There was no General Addmission section. Rows of fold up chairs with red seat lined the arena's floor. The bodies steadily flowed in until the place appeared as it would explode. The section we were seated in was sparsely crowded. Directly behind us were two older men in leather vests and black shirts with eagles and American flags on it. Our two groups kept to ourselves.
I was absolutely overjoyed with the though of seeing Black Sabbath. At the time, I had two Pantera shows under my belt and had no idea who Incubus was...I was there for Sabbath. There are always some bands that you never think you're going to see in your lifetime. You're convinced of it. You actually have never entertained the idea because it's just not going to happen. But, it did. I was there. Living 200% in that moment. I felt it. I remember being in and out of my head a lot that night. I was overwhelmed...and I didn't want anything to do with anyone I was with. It was all me that night. The line up was Incubus, Pantera and finally, Sabbath.
When Incubus started, I was full bore into my hallucinogenic dream. I had never heard of this gangly, hippie band before. They had everything that anyone in my state of mind could ever want...they had illuminating lights, a variety of sounds, including the bongo drums, which I happen to be a huge fan of. They blew my mind. They took me to a mountain top, probably somewhere in Wyoming. Somewhere secluded. There were huge bonfires that lit up the natural light show exhibited by the sunset. Again, it was just me and the band...I was in love. (I will go on to say that as I returned home I purchased Incubus' CD, only to return it as quickly as I purchased it. It definitely was not the show on the mountain that I remembered.)
In the midst of their set, I had to use the ladies room. There was absolutely no way I would have been capable of handling this daunting task by myself. Thankfully, our sober party happened to be a girl. I begged her to take me as if I was a small child tugging on a mother. She dutifully resigned herself to the task of taking the child to the restroom. As we exited our seating area and entered the main hall, the shock hit me. There were animals everywhere! Animals with big hair, Mother tattoos, leathered skin, face stomping boots, camoflouge cut-offs and animals that definitely should not have been let out of their cages. We finally made it to the bathroom with only a small handful of instances of me wandering off and being lost forever. As we entered the bathroom, there was an overwhelming odor of beer and cheap perfume and hairspray. There were conversations I could not quite make out, but the words "fuck, suck, line, drink and bus" were prevalent to my twisted mind. Sarah had to pull me out of the stall, as the walls seemed to be closing in on me. I made it out safely, we trekked back to our seat and I took a minute to recover. Deep breaths, deep breaths.
At our point of return we were between bands. The rowdy boys that accompanied us were readying themselves for the slayfest that was Pantera. Unfortunately, the fact that this was a seated show occurred to no one. I resigned to staying put. In my brief moment of clarity, I remembered a previous Pantera show where I thought I could hold my own. As a 16 year old girl, why would it occur to me that grown men could throw me a good six feet? I didn't feel that at this point, being submerged in a sea of sweaty, thrashing bodies would be a wise decision for me. The boys departed. They were to embark on an adventure that would be less than fulfilling. The lights went down, the crowd errupted in bestial screams....the lights came on and BLAM!!! The visual and audial penetration began. If you never had the chance to see Pantera, they were a force to be reckoned with live. They were raw...and innihilating. Phil was a violent dreamboat of a vocalist.
What seemed like minutes went by and the boys returned with complete look of defeat...minus one. All of a sudden an angry bear-like being emerged out of the shadows...it was our missing member, but it wasn't. There was a cloud of fury around him. He began raving in bear-talk about how it was complete bullshit that this was a seated show. He wanted no part of it! He was out. One thing I've learned in dealing with bears is that you can't reason with them. They're either going to rip you to shreds or walk away, not caring what you taste like. I pretended like the tirade was not happening! He proclaimed his disdain for what was happening and proceeded to tell us he was leaving. He was out of his gourd. We were underage out of towners. For a minute I worried about where he would end up, then Phil's voice sucked me back into the love fest we were embarking on, unbeknownst to him. The remaining five of us engrossed ourselves in Pantera's set as they finished, we sighed a relief. They were amazing, but challenging in our state of mind. One can only take a verbal assault for so long before you become emotionally exhausted.
We watched the techs switch out equipment, running around like little feverish little rodents on stage...and we waited. It seems like only moments elapsed as Sabbath was readying to bless our souls. Our friend suddenly appeared. He briefly told us of his adventure in the snow outside and how there was nowhere to go. He had issues getting back inside as the show was a no re-entry. Somehow he made it back though. It seems in time of extreme mind-molding, one is able to make things happen that wouldn't normally. The unlikely often comes to you. Maybe it's that you're in such a state of delirium and offensive passion that life molds to you, or maybe it's that those around you see the desparation and flammable tendencies in your eyes, that they allow behavior that wouldn't be readily received at any other time. Again, the lights went down, the music started and the legends took the stage. By this time I was coming back to reality. I was completely comprehending what I was seeing...there were no trips to the mountains, no lusty love affairs, no aggressive ballads being sang directly to me.
They started with Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath. I had only the highest of expectations, of course. My expectations were crushed as we observed Ozzy hopping around on stage like a frog. Literally...Crouch, POP! Crouch, POP! These were moves I would expect to see at a preschool dance recital. I get that he's snorted lines of ants and has done more damage to his body than the six of us combined, but....The next strike was when we noticed he was reading the lyrics off a teleprompter. This is when I shut down emotionally. The band was still good, Ozzy was still alive, but that old lovin' feeling had gone. I was officially disengaged. The men sitting behind us were having a grand ol' hootenanny though. I kept glancing back to ensure that I was not going to end up wearing their beer. I tried to reattach myself with the moment and not only my surroundings.
One of the men tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a prefect little joint. Without caring about security, standing within 15 feet, I graciously took it with a smile and allowed myself to fall back into the moment. I passed it on and with the graze of another's fingers I realized what was going on. I was supposed to be here. I was reliving history, although not as intense, one can not maintain a level of insantiy forever. It was selfish to think I was going to walk into a Black Sabbath show in 1999 and experience what my seniors had decades before. It was selfish to be so arrogant. I was with friends, out of state...enjoying a massive show, with much adventure under my belt in the short amount of time I had been there. I got it. I was THERE. As the show closed, the lights came on, the crowd slowly dispursed into the hallway.
A million bodies packed into a tunnel, carrying one another to the light. I think the majority of the bodies were unsure as to what had just happened. You didn't hear the typical roars of excitement of the show just witnessed. There was a slight hush over the crowd. People were in awe, yet, simultaneously disappointed, you could feel it. It was a cold, wet towel draped over the excitement that roared through the arena previous to the show.
My little group sauntered back to our car and quietly packed in. I don't recall much conversation on the way back to the hotel. Although, I do remember returning to the hotel, partaking in a smokefest and passing instantly out. The emotional drain that the show had left on me and my lack of interest in the group I was surrounded with led me directly to where I should have been...in bed. My brain filtered the voices in and out and finally shut them out completely and I was out.
I awoke the next morning to a scene that resembled what I imagine the St. Valentine's Day Massacre to look like. There were towels, blankets, pillows and hotel cups strewn across the room. Bodies piled on one another, tv on. I got up and regretfully looked in the mirror. I'm not sure what I expected to see, but I wished I hadn't. I tried to go back and lay down, but there was too much snoring and my head hurt too bad to even remotely think about traveling back to dream world. I'm pretty sure as I was traversing back to bed I kicked a head or two, possibly stepped on a foot or some other appendage. I heard groaning and moaning. The bodies started to move.
The other couple with us decided it was time for them to shower...couple style. The rest of us decided to have a friendly old smoke out. Again, we failed to remember what we learned smoking in our parents house. We failed to secure towels under the door, open windows or use toilet paper rolls. Our soundtrack was odd moans and bangs from the bathroom. We were zoned out on the tv, trying to block the shreiks from the bathroom out when there was a pounding on our door. We all looked at one another, completely bewildered. None of use knew what to do. We stashed everything we could in a ridiculous fury and answered the door. As I opened it, I didn't know what to expect. What lay on the other side of the door was a disgruntled hotel eomployee. He informed us that we had made the whole hallway smell like 'that marijuana'. We had 20 minutes to vacate or he was calling the police.
This whole situation was awful. The hotel was in my mother's name, we were out of state (again, I didn't want to spend the next 10 years in a Mexican prison) and two members of our party couldn't be ripped off one another. The hotel employee also informed us that we would have to pay a $75 room cleaning fee that would either be paid in cash or applied to the credit card used to hold the room. Not ok. He left. We panicked. We scrounged up all the cash we had, we had about $90. We had that much figured out. The next daunting task before us was to pull the assholes fucking in the bathroom out of there.
We pounded on the door. Repeatedly. After a good ten minutes of yelling at them and trying to articulate that the cops were coming, we finally got them out. They got dressed, in a rather disgruntled fashion, and we packed our shit, tucked our tails between our legs and made our way to the office. We paid the clerk the $75 cleaning fee, which was a one up on us as we were sure they just pocketed the money. We were just grateful to make a peaceful exit. We packed into our cars, heads pounding and heads bowed and made our way home.
There wasn't much discussion on the way home. We were still recovering from the journey we were all on from the night before. We had some sparse conversation about the chaos we experienced. We traveled the 240 miles and kept our distance for about a week before we reconnected and were able to laugh about the trip. It was a memory. Definitely one for the record books. Sabbath has always had a special place in my heart, after that trip, they held a solid place.